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Antitrust Battle: Arizona and Wisconsin MLSs Seek Dismissal of Lawsuit by Zillow

 |  February 22, 2024

In a legal skirmish echoing through the real estate industry, the Arizona Regional MLS (ARMLS) and Wisconsin-based Metro MLS are aiming to quash an antitrust lawsuit brought against them by Zillow Group and ShowingTime.

Initiated in late December 2023, the lawsuit alleges that ARMLS, Metro MLS, and MLS Aligned, the parent company of showing platform Aligned Showings, are engaged in anti-competitive behavior by seeking to monopolize the real estate showing management services market within their respective territories. The complaint further contends that the defendants conspired to exclude or severely limit ShowingTime, a direct competitor in those markets.

Central to the dispute is the allegation that the MLS defendants decided to exclusively offer Aligned Showings to their members, thereby sidelining ShowingTime, which had been a longstanding option. MLS Aligned, described as a joint venture among the defendants and other undisclosed MLSs, has come under scrutiny for its role in this arrangement.

In response to the lawsuit, the MLS defendants filed a motion on Tuesday seeking to dismiss the case with prejudice. In their filing, they assert that the allegations should be viewed with skepticism from the outset. The motion argues that Zillow and ShowingTime’s primary concern is not genuine competition but rather the challenge posed to ShowingTime’s market dominance in select regions.

Read more: Judge Rules Zillow CEO Can Be Deposed In Antitrust Case

According to the defendants, the complaint misinterprets antitrust law by portraying competition as a threat rather than a fundamental aspect of the American capitalist system. They contend that the plaintiffs’ perspective fails to acknowledge the benefits of competition and the consumer choice it fosters.

The outcome of this legal battle holds significant implications for the real estate industry, particularly in terms of market dynamics and the availability of showing management services. As the proceedings unfold, stakeholders are closely watching to see how the courts will address the complex intersection of competition law and business practices within the MLS landscape.

Both sides remain entrenched in their positions, setting the stage for a protracted legal struggle that could reshape the dynamics of the real estate market in the regions affected by the dispute.

Source: Housing Wire